2009 Volkswagen Golf GTI | road test

Posted on Dec 9, 2009 by

The 2009 Golf GTI starts off with a great advantage, being based on the standard, excellent Mk6 Golf.

That more pedestrian Golf is itself a fantastic little car – well put together and great to drive, and the GTI continues that excellence.

It takes the looks of the standard Golf and adds a more aggressive bumper, with a traditional red line-and-honeycomb grille as well as some very smart and now almost compulsory 17-inch GTI alloy wheels.

The interior is also very similar to the standard Golf, with a few little additions to differentiate it. The leather-covered steering wheel is trimmed with red stitching and has a racing-style flat bottom, with a metal GTI badge at the bottom. It’s chunkier than the regular steering wheel but shaped nicely with paddles mounted on the rear to change gears on the six-speed DSG dual clutch transmission.

The seats are sports ones with more lateral support than the regular chairs, available with the GTI trademark checked fabric upholstery or, as in our test car, leather. They’re very good; aesthetically pleasing and supportive enough to hold you in place when flying round corners.

2009 Volkswagen Golf GTIOther touches inside include more red stitching on the gear knob and the handbrake. There are stylish, textured black plastic inserts on the doors and dashboard that give the car a contemporary air.

An LCD touch screen sits in the dash in all models, even those without satellite navigation, and the car also comes with an auxiliary input socket for MP3 players, and dual zone air conditioning. It also comes with a bottle opener in the centre console – a feature long associated with Golfs and one I’ve never quite understood the point of.

Being a Golf, the GTI is still very practical. We drove the five-door version, which is easy to get in and out of and has plenty of room for three adults in the back seats. The boot is a decent size too, with lots of space for shopping and everyday detritus.

The engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit with 210bhp and it’s brilliant. It’s tremendously satisfying and responsive and very torquey, and is mated to an also-superb DSG gearbox. Acceleration is brisk and accompanied by a wonderful but unobtrusive boom from the exhaust above around 2,000rpm, and gears are shifted smoothly and at lightning speed. Even when driving in a spirited fashion, changing gear mid-corner fails to unsettle the balance of the car.

 

 

2009 Volkswagen Golf GTI

However, being front-wheel drive means that exuberant acceleration from standstill can spin the front wheels – something to bear in mind if you’re sitting next to a police car at the traffic lights.

Handling is really good – that car is nimble and sure-footed, with plenty of feel and if you drive the car on a track or on the limit, plenty of adjustability in the chassis. An Adaptive Chassis Control package is available as an option, which allows you to change suspension settings between Comfort, Normal and Sport.

Standard features are what you would expect in a car of this class – cruise control, electric everything, an optional rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors are available. From a safety standpoint, the Golf was named the safest car of 2009 by Euro NCAP, the European crash test programme.

Is the GTI the ultimate hot hatch? It’s tricky to say for sure, as there’s a lot of very good competition around these days, although not always available in the Middle East. But the Golf GTI makes a very good case for itself. It has all the practicality that you need from a car like this – with four doors and a big boot, owners could quite happily transport a family around.

2009 Volkswagen Golf GTi

But it also has performance of a proper hot hatch. It’s fun to drive, it handles superbly, the steering is lovely and meaty with plenty of feel and the chassis is excellent too. It’s difficult to come up with anything as good – the 2009 Golf GTI is a quality product all around.

2009 Golf GTI

Price (AED): 116,000
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder
Max power (bhp/rpm): 210/5,300
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 280/1,700
Transmission: Six-speed DSG automatic/six-speed manual
Driven wheels: Front-wheel drive
Standard safety features: ABS, ESP, Electronic Differential Lock, Brake Assist, seven airbags, traction control

 

One Response to 2009 Volkswagen Golf GTI | road test

  1. George Reply

    April 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    VW seems to have struck gold in the Middle East with the MkV Golf GTI and now the MkVI. The young and ambitious, who intend on climbing the corporate ladder have found solace in this quick shifting, tarmac hugging, economical thing called the Rabbit.
    The GTI is almost like the perfect lil girlfriend………….until you find the one.

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